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The Reign of the Gunner

by Keith Fosmire

The time is now!
move with the red in your eye.
Hesitation,
not in the S.O.P.
An elaborate dance,
performed with no thought.
Follow me,
and you will get to your treat.

Too far now!
we NEVER RETREAT!
Twenty five hundred times
we practiced this drill.
My men of nine,
with your hollowed eyes
and gritting teeth,
let’s kill this foe
and find some more!

It’s over now!
Collect your treats, Joe,
and place them in their bags.
Send them to their wives,
I can already hear them howl.
I already miss that rhythm,
that rat-tat-tat.
All of this done,
under the reign of the gunner!

Keith Fosmire served in Iraq Doara from 07-09 and Afghanistan Wardak from 2010-2011 with 10th Mountain. 4th BDE 2nd BN, 4th Infantry Division, as a Squad Leader. He has been married for over nine years to his soul mate Alisa, and is currently pursuing a BS in computer science at SUNY Oswego, New York.

Miss Dial

by Ginger Roberts

The first time I became conscious of the entity named Aunt Nicole was on a cross-country trip that involved my mother, my son, Thomas and my dog, Waffle. We had all the time in the world to sample all the nuances of our trip but the destination was always on my mind. I did not want to go back to work after having a month of leave. I did not want to come back to the United States. I did not want to put the boots on and trudge through the muck or answer to anyone for anything. I wanted to enjoy the freedom a little while longer.

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I carry with me

by Adam Stone

I carry with me the weight of the nation, in a helicopter to save the world, provide relief to those in need. Rice and water, bread, Salt. We deliver, we ration.

I carry the tears of the forgotten blood. The grieving mother. The hungry child.

I carry the distant LZ, the optimistic relief. Rotor blades echoing off the land scape, a mantra of life in the shadow of death.

I carry the forgotten, the wounded, the betrayed. The one in the corner afraid to fight.

I carry the family not of blood but of design. The beat of the drummer chanting bring out your dead, bring out your dead, bring out your dead.

I carry secret hearts, of broken dreams. Widows weeping and children crying for loved ones who never return, weeping for those who came back changed.

 

I carry my rifle, my side arm, my chambered round, ready to engage an enemy, not realizing it was pointed at me,

The darkness of humanity, the evil inside, the silhouette-painted country, where fiery eyes pierce through the sky.

Bullets and bandages, to kill and to heal, anyone who crosses my path.

Hemmingway and Thoreau, verses I ascend with into the heavens, the raven never more.

Bruises, Scars, some of mangled form, others seared into the heart, a catalyst of rage

A knife on my hip, a sharpened tongue forged by man or god

Illustrated flesh to remember the fallen, to honor the sacrifice, a constant work in progress

 

Her photograph in my helmet, an altar to life, who I should be, who I once was, who I shall become

 

I carry with me an antiquated religion, who is righteous and who must atone, drawing a line in the sand beckoning us thou shall not kill, thou shall not kill, thou shall not kill,

I carry with me the sins of my father and grandfather, their own wars waged inside of them.

I carry with me the emptiness of a soul, left to rust in a foreign land.

 

I carry the weight of this life, the fighting, the defending. The providing of aid and comfort.

I carry with me, a name I have been given, Infidel, warrior, husband, father

Adam Stone is a 20-year Marine Corps veteran. He has served in multiple locations around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Scars

by Timothy L. Jones

His muscles stretched tight, the bow arced, the knuckle of his thumb resting against his cheek. He blew the call again, a quiet grunt, and let it fall from his lips, dangle by the string around his neck. Burning crept from his spine toward his shoulders, up his neck. Jake’s arms began to tremble, but he held fast, concentrated on the beaten path that cut through the trees.

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The Secret of the Widow on the Side of the Road

by Thomas Carnes

She kneels there
Hands out
Eyes crying behind the burqa veil
The widow knows the secret
But she won’t share or tell
She wants us to find out in our own time
The world is not a splash of sepia
Through a small thick bulletproof window pane
It is bright and big with the colors of death and pain
She knows, how well she knows
Every day, no matter how hot
She sits there, her children playing in the deserted desert dying lot
She holds out her hand to every passing caravan
Regardless of who or what
She wants to share her grief, to exchange her pain, to give out her secrets
But we have a secret of our own
One that we take with us, far away, eternal and home
We won’t share it with the widow
We would all just cry
We take our secret on with us
And pass her by.

Thomas Carnes is a medically retired Army captain. He has served in the Army Reserve, on active duty, and in the National Guard. As an enlisted soldier, he was a Blackhawk crew chief, doing time at Fort Polk, Korea and Fort Bragg. He has deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan as a military police officer. Currently he teaches criminal justice at James Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas.

Painting the Room Red

By Lea Baker

Louie was standing on the slick trunk of the fallen tree, gripping Doreen’s screen door for balance, when Brena opened the front door.

“No strangers.”

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Mirrored Eyes

by Eric Hawkins

horned owl on breathless field
feathers charred on twisted wings
eyes reflect   shattered horizon

white-tailed doe under fallen oak
branch impaled through cervix
eyes reflect   shattered fawn

man prone fractured on stone
torso smothered smoked splayed
eyes reflect     shattered dream

vultures swirl on acrid waves as
mortality seeps from natures breast

Eric Hawkins is a disabled veteran. He served ten years as an infantryman/Bradley gunner from 1985 to 1996. He is currently a student at Austin Peay State University and is seeking a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

The Orange Key

by Terry Brunt

“I think I’m going to shit myself,” Clinton sputtered as he tried to escape.

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Who Am I?

by Aaron Auld

Do you ever look at yourself? Sure, you see yourself in the mirror a handful of times a day when you go to the bathroom to take a leak and all that, but usually I find that when I look into the mirror I’m looking at all of the things that aren’t me. Is there something on my face? Lately, however, I don’t really know why, but I have been making a concentrated effort to look myself in the eyes when I find myself facing a mirror. Sometimes I can hold a gaze longer than others.

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Fire Away: A Veteran’s Journey From War To College

By Timothy Schumacher

“An Army veteran uses two different weapons to combat the struggles of adjusting to college life after war.”

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